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Baker Act

Baker Act

What is the Baker Act?

The Baker Act offers individuals who are living with mental illness in crisis with service for up to 72 hours for mental health examination.

What is the difference between the Baker Act and the Marchman Act?

The Baker Act offers individuals who are living with mental illness in crisis with service for up to 72 hours for mental health examination. The Marchman Act specifically offers assessments and treatment to those who are incapable of making decisions regarding their drug or alcohol abuse.

What is the criteria for a Baker Act? Under what circumstances would someone want to initiate a Baker Act?

For an individual to be eligible for in involuntary examination through the Baker Act, he or she must have a mental illness, refuse or be unable to consider examination, and be a danger to himself, herself, or others.

Can a minor be Baker Acted?

Yes, a minor can be Baker Acted. For this to happen, he/she must meet all of the criteria. Upon hospitalization, a minor under the age of 14 may not be admitted to a bed in a room/ward with an adult. Children in Crisis Stabilization Units (CCSU) stabilize young people in the most appropriate and least restrictive environment available. JFK North is the only facility that can recieve minors in a Palm Beach County. A Transportation Exception Plan for law enforcement takes minors to the nearest facility licensed with a pediatric psychiatry beds has been approved, allowing you to pass by the nearest facility to bring the minor to one that has the specialized programming for youth.

Who can initiate a Baker Act?

The Baker Act may only be used by someone who has witnessed an individual causing harm to himself or others, a law enforcement officer, or a healthcare professional (physician, psychology, nurse, social worker, therapist, or licensed mental health counselor).

Ways in which the Baker Act can be initiated:

        1. A witness can file an “ex-parte” petition (see below)
        2. Call the police. A law enforcement officer can make the determination that the individual is a danger to themselves or others and transport him/her for examination to a facility if he/she is exhibiting behavior that meets the criteria.
        3. A healthcare professional may execute a certificate detailing observed behavior for the Baker Act. A Mobile Crisis Team (see “Crisis Personnel” for more information) can come and assess an individual prior to resorting to the Baker Act. If the healthcare professional determines that the individual requires an involuntary hospitalization, they will call the police to transport the individual to the hospital.

What is an “ex-parte” and how is it different from calling the police for a Baker Act?

With “ex-parte” petition, the court considers the petition before serving it. You may file for involuntary examination at offices of the Clerk of Court without a filling fee. If the court determines that the individual meets the criteria for examination, an order is entered without a hearing, and the police are ordered to immediately transport the individual. The family must call the police’s non-emergency number and make arrangements, including requesting CIT officers. The person is taken to the nearest designated mental health facility or one specified in the petition as long as it is a Baker Act receiving facility. The facility must evaluate the person within 72 hours. However, if the criteria is not met, the court may dismiss the petition or set a hearing for a later date, giving the individual notice. Both parties must attend the hearing. For more information, see the attached document.

Where does someone go when Baker Acted? What are the designated facilities in Palm Beach and Martin County?

St. Mary’s Medical, Delray Medical, Jerome Golden Center, South County Mental Health, and JFK Medical Center are all designated facilities in Palm Beach. JFK has two locations in the North and South. JFK North is the only receiving facility for children under 18.

See below for the locations of each facility.

St Mary’s Medical Center
901 45th Street
West Palm Beach, FL 33407
(561) 844-6300

Delray Medical Center (Fair Oaks Pavilion)
5352 Linton Boulevard
Delray Beach, FL 33484
(561) 495-3100

The Jerome Golden Center for Behavioral Health, Inc.
808 NW Avenue D
Belle Glade, FL 33430
(561) 993-8080

The Jerome Golden Center for Behavioral Health, Inc.
1041 45th Street
West Palm Beach, FL 33407
(561) 383-8000

South County Mental Health Center
16158 South Military Trail, Building A
Delray Beach, FL 33484
(561) 737-8400

JFK Medical Center North 2201 45th Street
West Palm Beach, FL 33407
(561) 842-6141

JFK Medical Center
5301 South Congress Avenue
Atlantis, FL 33642
(561) 965-7300

What happens to someone who is Baker Acted?

Within 24 hours, the individual will have a psychiatric examination. The 72-hour period for which the patient may be held begins when he/she arrives at the facility. Services include medical screenings, examination, and evaluations to determine the necessary care and treatment.

Can I talk to my family member while they are Baker Acted?

The vast majority of time, the hospital ERs do not allow anyone in when the person is Baker Acted. Contact your family member’s facility for more information.

Can I talk to the mental health professionals treating my loved one while they are Baker Acted?

If the individual does not sign a release, the professionals cannot give information. However, professionals can accept information even if there is not a release. We suggest that families write up a brief one-page history, including diagnosis and medications, and provide it to the hospital when the individual is being assessed.

How long can an individual stay at hospitalized after the initial Baker Act?

An individual can stay at the facility for up to 72 hours for assessment. If the individual becomes stabilized, he/she may leave earlier. Additionally, there is no guarantee for longer stay.

How can a Baker Act be extended?

The involuntary examination period of up to 72 hours can be extended if a physician has documented the presence of an emergency condition. Without consent, a subsequent petition can be filed for involuntary examination by the court or facility if it determines that the individual remains a danger to themselves or others.

What happens after discharge?

The person may be released at any point up to 72 hours, unless charged with a crime, in which case he/she will be returned to the custody of a law enforcement officer.

Are there requirements that must be met when an individual is being discharged from the hospital following a Baker Act?

At the beginning of the examination, a treatment plan must be made, identifying the level of care, the use of medication, and anticipated discharge criteria for terminating the involuntary examination. The plan must be deemed to be clinically appropriate by a physician, clinical psychologist, psychiatric nurse, mental health counselor, marriage and family therapist, or clinical social worker. The patient shall be discharged when the order expires or any time the patient no longer meets the criteria set forth. Upon discharge, the facility will send a certificate of discharge to the court.

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